A look at the Pittsburgh Pirates’ September reinforcements

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May 23, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Radhames Liz (58) pitches against the New York Mets during the ninth inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 8-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Radhames Liz

After the dust settled on the 2014-2015 offseason, it was clear that Pirates general manager Neal Huntington thought that shoring up his bullpen was his biggest priority. With the lone “big splash” coming in the form of acquiring Antonio Bastardo, Huntington filled out the ‘pen with twin unheralded signings. Arquimedes Caminero and Liz gave pitching coach, nay, wizard Ray Searage some new toys to play with. While Caminero has wavered some storms to become a semi-reliable late-inning option, Liz was sent down to make room for Charlie Morton despite a good-if-not-great performance early in the year. Now, after working with Indians manager Dean Treanor and his staff, Liz is ready to contribute to the club in September.

How he can help – Liz has excellent strikeout ability as a middle-relief guy, with a 9.3 SO/9 rating. As a reformed major league starter, Liz carries a variety of weapons under his belt, but in typical Serage-esque fashion, has whittled those down to those that work best. Liz relies on the four-seam fastball but can also trot out a capable two-seamer and a change up when need be. Having four pitches he can throw reliably allows Clint Hurdle great flexibility in playing matchups out of the middle relief options.

How he can hurt – Liz’s achilles’ heel is the home run. In 12 appearances at the big-league level, Liz allowd three home runs, or 1.4 per nine innings. That number is an absolute deal breaker for a middle reliever relied upon to get people out. Additionally, though he does have a nice selection of pitches, none of them fare particularly well with low weighted pitch values across the board. The worst of these is the changeup with has a -1.2 rating according to FanGraphs. (for comparison, 0.0 is considered “average”)

Next, we turn our attention to a young catcher who may help the team in a very-lacking area.

Next: The Elias Sports Bureau

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